February is always a month I look forward to as it is the time of the year we do changes and alterations in preparation for the upcoming season. So far we have built a new workshop, done road repairs and are busy with a new ablution block and will be re-painting all the chalets over the next month.
Good game drives
Most of the staff either have come back from their leave or are going on leave, always a sure thing to make all of us more relaxed and have time to appreciate living in the valley.
Philemon had two months leave and was eager to get back to the park and had an amazing drive – a guides time and knowledge in the bush pays off, whilst out driving near big baobab it was unusually devoid of game, a prediction of lion was on the cards – soon circling vultures helped point out the obvious and the lions were spotted on a zebra kill. A large herd of buffalo was slowly advancing and then the interaction of species was observed – with the buffalo bulls advancing on the lions and driving them away for the herd and off their kill – giving the vultures time to descend and tear at the carcass – one lioness was not giving up so easily and kept on returning and been chased away until she managed to drag the kill under some thickets and under cover the pride returned and the buffalo passed on their way.
Billy and co.
Billy, who joined us in 1999 as a cook, qualified for a guide a number of years ago, just continues to expand his career – Billy is studying to become a walking guide and has involved himself in working hand in hand with a Japanese Development Agency – teaching local zambian computer skills and recently became involved in a banana chip project, which will start operations in March. A clever idea, using the ideal self generating plant for making paper. Billy has been over to Japan and has an excellent partnership with the agency.
Class of 2011
Our lives here can seem unusual to others living in the city but to us having elephants in the garden is comparable to those having a bird bath in theirs! My children have grown up in the valley and have now started boarding school – same but different … Byron and Tara go down to Kafunta River Lodge on a Monday morning, along with Rebecca and join Luke for a weeks boarding school. We have registered a small school – being a total of 4 children and have a wonderful teacher, Jenny, over from Australia. The main reason for having a boarding school comes down to basics – at this time of the year the roads are wet and muddy and travelling each day is just not practical! My eldest son, Kyle, has completed school and at present is volunteering for Project Luangwa. We recently hosted a course in Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation at the camp. Many thanks to Karen Trendler for coming up and conducting this course in conjunction with SLCS. It was well attended by ZAWA, SLCS and residents of Luangwa. I was fortunate enough to participate and am certain will put this to use both here and at Takeri Private Reserve.
Goose, one of the mongooses I hand raised, (I rescued her and Finn this time last year – no bigger than matchboxes , dropped when their family were moving to get away from rising waters) – has mated with a wild mongoose and sometime on Monday gave birth to three babies, one male and two female – her den was not ideal due to water flooding in and as I was reaching down and trying to open this up to get an idea of the area Finn started carrying the babies out – with no objection I took the first one and he proceeded to go back and bring me the other two. Both Finn and Goose were happy for me to handle the babies and slept with them in a box in my bedroom and then this morning carried them to a storeroom at the back of my house. Both Finn and Goose are taking turns watching the babes and it is incredible to see how they never leave them alone and instinct has kicked in and they are doing exactly what they would be doing in the wild. Both mongooses interact with the wild ones but continue to run around the camp and jump on the couch and watch TV with me.
Work beckons and let me get back to vat returns and accounts – something’s don’t change wherever you are!
Patsy and the wildlife team